|Source // Wikipedia|
The very first thing I read about Midwinter was its introductory paragraph on Wikipedia. "Midwinter is a post-apocalyptic first-person action role-playing game with strategy and survival elements for the Atari ST, Amiga and PC." This lead to two reactions. Firstly, words to the effect of 'Holy shit, am I reading this right?', and shortly thereafter 'I'm probably not going to be able to play it, am I?'.
Set in the not-too-distant future, you are tasked with navigating a massive island in search of support for guerilla warfare against the big bad guy. You can recruit civilians into your ranks, snipe the enemy from afar, blow up their means of travel and far, far more, all viewed with 3D shaded polygon-o-vision.
Let's see what all of this is about - but will we see it in first-person, or via the wonders of YouTube?
Sadly, at this moment in time, I've only got YouTube to go by. Thankfully, however, it has highlighted plenty of things of note, chief among them the absolutely massive scale of Midwinter.
This map is daunting from the start, and you can go anywhere on the island, with some areas being inaccessible due to your method of transport or enemy presence and so on. The one caveat is that you only have two hours on the in-game timer in which to do anything on your 'turn', so to speak, because it's the only way to be able to juggle your ability to play as any number of 32 characters.
Thirty-two characters may not sound daunting enough to you until you learn that some of them simply won't speak to you unless you're the 'right' person. The lead character, Commander John Stark, will have an easy time recruiting Nurse Maddocks, to whom he is engaged, but trying to recruit a fella named Grazzini will prove a challenge, as he is jealous of you. You'll have to find another neutral character, then wait for their two-hour turn to come around, then reach Grazzini and try to convince him to join the cause.
This happens multiple times, for a great many characters, on a massive island that is completely covered in snow - no matter how green the overhead map is. And all of this takes place in hostile territory, essentially, as whoever you are playing as could be captured or severely injured by the enemy troops at any point, scuppering your plans.
But isn't that awesome? These characters all have their own skills, of course, but so too their own histories and interactions with each other. There are no silly side-quests to tick off a list before they'll join any old Tom, Dick and Harry, there is instead a need to find them in the wilderness, rescue them, and get the right person to talk to them in order to persuade them to join the cause. In 3D, in first-person, on an Atari ST.
Map size is always an interesting talking point (for some gamers at least), with the likes of Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto getting thrown onto the table before someone inevitably says 'Just Cause 3' with a smirk. Midwinter supposedly clocks in at 160,000 square miles. Good heavens.
There are a variety of options you can turn off before you play which adjust the difficulty for you. Personally, I agree with those who think getting bombarded by mortar fire doesn't make for a fun time, so turning that off is a nice idea. I can't speak to how else you can tweak it before or during the game, though, but at least it's got the option to not be too overwhelming...
For all the stuff that Midwinter can lay claim to having, I can't confirm if it makes for a fun game or not. Technically, I'm in awe of it. The freedom to explore an immense map however you see fit, the ability to do things quickly and clinically or to play the slow game and to be thorough - there appears to be something for everyone... provided they like open world gaming.
Very open world gaming.
I don't know if it's empty, or has just the right amount of stuff you need to give it the sense of being a living place. For those of you who like their RPGs to have random encounters with the wildlife, well, best stick with more modern offerings I think.
It's easy to see why Midwinter makes the list and was a complete unknown before I came to see it - and that has to change. At some point, I must play it and find out what it's really like. I likely won't get far in it, but from all that I've read about it, it just can't be ignored.
Complex games require complex manuals, and to flesh out the world ever more, this manual came complete with a novella to set the scene.
Midwinter, developed by Maelstrom Games, first released in 1989.
Version watched: MS-DOS, 1989 (nayjah)